And everywhere that Mary went...

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Posted by Charles on February 19, 2000 at 00:04:48:

At the risk of incurring the wrath of fellow artists whom I have never met and who have never met me...

When communicating through text only, it's difficult to gauge the tenor, meaning, intent, etc. of what someone is saying when leaving a message or when engaged in an exchange of ideas or opinions. What struck me the most from some of the responses to the sheep thing was that the positive news that I was sharing with everyone didn't seem to matter. Instead, genuine hostility became the order of the day as a perceived insult became the focal point of attention. Those of you who know me understand where I'm coming from when I leave messages like the one I'm talking about. Those of you who don't overreacted. With that in mind, I'd like to explain something that many animation artists, especially those who are manning the front lines in features need to understand.

Those artists who operate on the fringe of the industry look to the great feature artists in very significant ways. Ways that I'm sure you don't realize. You men and women at Disneys, Warners, Dreamworks, Pixar, PDI and Fox are vital to the success of what the fringe element is trying to accomplish. You're the top guns. It's the success of your incredible work that is the driving force behind animation. When an animated feature is released and goes to the top of the US box office, a lot of activity is generated. It gives the industry's entrepreneurs the added clout they need to sell their projects. It builds investor confidence in animated product. It's gives them a tremendous boost. It's a big help in directing capital that's heading to motion picture entertainment to come into animation instead of some other medium.

The black sheep look to the rest of the fold for help in ways that I'm sure you don't realize. The war they are fighting is the same war that you are fighting. We all suffer and struggle for the art. They struggle one way, you struggle another. They're your biggest fans. Nobody is cheering you on more than they are. Nobody wants you to succeed more than they do. Nobody rejoices at your success more than they do. Everytime you come out with a blockbuster mega hit, they take a giant step forward.

When the feature artists come to this web site and leave doom and gloom messages, or write in a way that makes it seem as if everyone's efforts are in vain, or that what we're fighting for is a lost cause, how do you expect them to feel? You are most certainly the leaders in our industry. If you drop the flag, how do you expect them to react? Put yourselves in their boots for a moment. They look to you for inspiration. When a feature artist leaves a message that sounds like all is lost, they're going to pick up that flag and run with it. To them, surrender is not an option. Defeat is unthinkable. They're not willing to entertain any notion of giving up or throwing in the towel.

It's a frustrating time for many of us, but we're with you in spirit if nothing else. The reason why I'm making such a big deal out of the Union's no-strike clause is that the industry, Union, non-union and independent artists alike want strong, confident leadership. If we can't get that from our leaders, then we'll stand up and lead. Damn the tortillas! I mean... torpedoes!

Nobody, especially yours truly, is advocating a strike. A strike will accomplish nothing. We want a strong "union of animation artists". Not just a strong Local 839, but a strong confederacy that consists of everyone. An industry that can achieve long term goals that are good for organized labor and independents who are on the best of terms with our unionized brothers and sisters.

If, God forbid, the Union should ever decide that things were bad enough that a strike was in order, I as an independent, would be right there on the picket line with the rest of my friends, colleagues and co-workers. I'd do everything I could to excersize whatever influence I may have in this industry to get every non-union artist and every animation and art student in the LA area out there as well.

What the fringe wants is what animation artists everywhere want. Leadership. Strong, determined, confident leadership. If we can't get it from the feature artists we look up to, then we'll do it alone.

I hope this helps. We're your fans and friends. Produce great art. Don't let us down.


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